Maybe kids are more like chickens… they thrive on being cage-free and need to be outdoors to play.
Today, I went to a new indoor playground or play gym near my house – and was reminded why I can’t let my kids go to them anymore. You’ve seen them – usually there’s a climbing structure with slides, play kitchens, reading nook, arts and crafts area, dress-up stations, bounce houses, and a coffee bar where moms can buy organic snacks for the kids and get a latte for herself.
It was cloudy and cold, so playing outside wasn’t an option. As my kids played, I sat back and observed my kids and the other kids. My issue is not with the playgrounds themselves – rather the parents and kids that go to them. It’s usually way too chaotic – kids running around like crazy, zipping their play shopping carts or play cars around bumping into others, throwing toys, or beating up other kids in the bounce house. Maybe these indoor playgrounds just let in too many kids or once – or need to put an age limit on the kids who attend.
It could also be that 30+ kids weren’t meant to be enclosed in a 3,000 square foot space. When we go to a regular outdoor park or playground, I easily see 30 or more kids and it never seems to be as crazy. Maybe it’s the fresh air, expanse of the land – or maybe kids just need simpler toys and structures to play with. Maybe they’re overwhelmed with all the different toys and choices.
I can see the difference even in my own kids. They can get crazy too at indoor playgrounds – I sometimes have to intervene to get them to stop. At an outdoor park or playground, I rarely intervene – or the only time I do they’re fighting with each other. They seem more calm and free in the outdoors.
So now the question is what do I do when it’s raining and we can’t. Any ideas?